After landing at Nicaragua’s humble capital Managua, I exited the airport to find a friendly local holding a sign that said “Mark and Dave’s.” Mark and Dave’s is the all inclusive surf camp established by two Orange County entrepreneurs that I had heard so much about in the months leading up to my decision to embark on this adventure.
After locking myself in my bedroom and local Starbucks for the better part of 12 months while studying for CPA exams I decided it was time to to live a little. Hawaii was too expensive, Mexico was too close and Indo was too far. I did some research and Nicaragua checked all the boxes. Cheap, warm water, good waves and delicious food.
Back at the Managua airport, I piled into an old van with 8 other surfers who I would later find out were all from California. As we drove Nicaragua’s rugged highways and roads it felt a lot like Mexico. There were make-shift homes, roadside salesmen, jungle, a chaparral vibe and plenty of potholes.
Two hours into the four hour drive to the surf camp on the Pacific side in Iguana we stopped to pick up pizza. Well, it wasn’t quite pizza but it was a pretty damn good effort. Regardless, it paired quite well with the cooler full of Nicaraguan beer “Toña” the van was already equipped with. For those of you who haven’t been to Nicaragua, Toña is the Nicaraguan equivalent of Natural Light. #delicious
Out and about during the pizza (and apparently liquor) run.
Aside from the pizza run, most of the drive was spent meeting the other surfers and getting stoked for the waves.
- Crew #1 – Three 40 year old guys from San Francisco (they try to do big surf trip once a year to escape work/kids)
- Crew #2 – Two kooks from Los Angeles (A kook is defined as someone who is posing as a surfer. I don’t normally use this term because it’s a bit harsh but these guys talked a big game and ended up being the only ones who were too scared to paddle out that week.)
- Crew #3 – A solo surfer from San Diego who was spending the first week with us at the surf camp and an additional three weeks trekking across Central America.
- Crew #4 – Two San Diego surfers: one of which was an executive at a skateboard company and the other was an engineer.
The van ride.
Full of beer but eager to paddle out, we arrived at our surf paradise mid afternoon only to find 15 foot monsters breaking all the way down to the beach. I had surfed some heavy waves at the world famous Blacks Beach down in San Diego during my time at UCSD but I wasn’t prepared for these. The best person in the surf crew (not me) was intermediate at best so in reality none of us were prepared for these. However, after all the hype and big talk we drummed up on the drive over, we paddled out anyway.
I caught maybe two waves that afternoon because I spent most of my time trying not to drown. After taking 20 or so waves on the head, I decided to call it a day and paddled back in with my tail between my legs. It was a brutal initiation experience but I didn’t fly all the way to Nicaragua to wimp out. I was determined to tame these relatively beastly waves the next morning so I set my alarm for 5:30am.
To be continued in Throwback Thursday – Nicaragua 2014 Part 2…